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No Exemplary Westford Educators In Particular State Guideline

While 95.7 percent of educators were considered proficient in a set of guidelines associated with Race to the Top funding, concerns over the program made it unclear if it was worth pursuing the "exemplary" designation.

Westford is renowned for the quality of its school system, as recently released MCAS scores can attest. However, there is one metric where Westford’s schools have not done as well as one might expect, at least in the eyes of state officials.

According to data Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), no Westford educators or administrators are considered “exemplary” under Educator Evaluation Framework requirements attached to federal Race to the Top funding.

Following regulations passed by the DESE in 2011, all districts involved in the Race to the Top program need to have at least half of their educators follow the framework, which evaluates professional practices and student learning goals.

 Under the DESE definitions for the program, an “exemplary” educator is “consistently and significantly exceeds requirements of a standard or overall” with other ratings including “proficient,” “needs improvement,” and “unsatisfactory.”

While School Superintendent Bill Olsen believes there are many exemplary educators in town, he had concerns over the DESE process and was not yet sure if it would benefit students to pursue possible extra workload for educators to meet that designation.

“The evaluation system in the state was implemented very quickly and there were some issues that we just wanted to take another look at so it just has some meaning to it,” said Olsen. “There are a large number of our staff that we consider exemplary, we just want to set clear guidelines to ensure the proper rigor.”

In Westford, 51.3 percent, or 235 of the district’s 458 educators were evaluated under the guidelines, with 95.7 percent of them being deemed proficient, 2.6 percent being deemed needing improvement and 1.7 percent classified as unsatisfactory.

For a greater breakdown of how specific parts of the district did, check here. A full list of all the districts in the state is available here.

Steven Sadowski December 22, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Well, we live in state by which there are two main factions: the 1st are statists that believe in the power of govt.to bring about a more perfect society. In opposition are people that value the individual over the collective. This is just the reality of the situation. So while you don't like the dichotomy, the dichotomy exists. In my opinion, the problem with education is the unions. When I look at who traditionally promotes unions, it's Democrats. So I'm not trying to over-simplify and generalize, that's just the facts. I realize some people don't like to break up these fights ideologically and instead argue ad hoc, but my experience is that these battles are fought rather stereotypically.
Cheryl December 22, 2013 at 06:10 PM
I make every effort to be pragmatic, that is to avoid bandwagons and the "groupthink" mentality. I generally avoid commenting on these threads but this one touched me personally. The debate has been interesting. Thanks!.
Steven Sadowski December 22, 2013 at 06:14 PM
Hope to debate with you soon. Merry Christmas.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) December 22, 2013 at 08:25 PM
Cheryl, you should try reading the rest of the story beyond the headline. Thanks.
Cheryl December 22, 2013 at 08:59 PM
Andrew, I did.
Cheryl December 22, 2013 at 09:08 PM
Andrew, I did read it.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) December 22, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Let me quote a part of your comment... "What was not mentioned in the article is that the reason no teacher received an "exemplary" rating is because the school department made a decision not to give that rating to any teacher regardless of their skill, dedication or effectiveness. "..... this is explained in the article. And from that and your commentary relating to the headline, I guessed you did not read the story.
Cheryl December 22, 2013 at 09:22 PM
I still don't see that this was made clear in the article and believe the headline is misleading.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) December 22, 2013 at 09:30 PM
You're entitled to your opinion on the headline, which I don't agree with, but the reasoning as to why this guideline was not pursued initially was mentioned within the article. Paragraph 5 and 6.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) December 22, 2013 at 09:31 PM
I look forward to your apology.
Cheryl December 22, 2013 at 09:57 PM
I apologize for saying it was "not mentioned," it was. I maintain that the process and how the decision relates to the state guidelines was not made clear.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) December 22, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Thank you for your apology. You'll have to talk to Superintendent Olson regarding to the decision, I talked to him and what he said to me is above. It's inappropriate for me to have an opinion one way or another here.
Westford Insider December 23, 2013 at 06:50 AM
Andrew, Maybe next time you talk to Olsen you can ask how he himself was rated EXEMPLARY (the school committee was to use the same new evaluation standards as set fourth for teachers), WPS sure was OK rating a dozen teachers Needs Improvement under this scale (that was certainly now taken off the table because the system was "new"). I also hear the WEA and Olsen are headed towards a grievance over the Westford Schools breaking their word on number of evidence required from teachers....Maybe a quote from Olsen or Jason Humphrey on that would have rounded out the story
Sam December 23, 2013 at 07:30 AM
This is what my comment was about Cheryl. For the past few years Olsen has been hammered by the teachers posting on the patch like WI. In the article he sticks up for his teachers who have been all over him here. That was it.
Cheryl December 23, 2013 at 07:59 AM
I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Olsen. He has a difficult job and I believe him to be fair and reasonable.
Sam December 23, 2013 at 08:07 AM
I agree.
Hans Moleman December 23, 2013 at 08:34 AM
That's why he us the only one in the WPS rated as exemplary then, mystery solved. Proficient staff exemplary leadership
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) December 23, 2013 at 11:36 AM
Just to clarify here, the ratings given by the School Committee are completely separate from these ratings.
Randy Winslow December 23, 2013 at 01:42 PM
http://www.doe.mass.edu/edeval/model/ No Andrew they are not, all four ratings are the same, though the standards are different. Steven S. What are your thoughts on these rubrics? Do they look like they will measure how good a teacher is?
Vincent DiRico December 23, 2013 at 02:11 PM
RW is correct, compare the standards/elements on the evaluation form with the state doc http://tinyurl.com/westford-eval ---> HM what???? to be fair: remember this http://tinyurl.com/westford-eval2
Hans Moleman December 23, 2013 at 02:31 PM
With all due respect, now its time for Andrew to read carefully and apologize for incorrect statements. Olsen was rated using the SAME evaluation instrument. He was rated exemplary by the school committee, must be nice for WPS to work in a district where the only one rated exemplary by that scale is the one "throwing himself on the sword" by prohibiting teachers from receiving the same rank. Draw your own conclusions.
Vincent DiRico December 23, 2013 at 02:38 PM
conclusion is: reading is fundamental, boo hoo
Steven Sadowski December 23, 2013 at 03:03 PM
Randy Winslow: I don't think the ratings are related to the outcome of having a great school system. In my opinion, the primary variable are the students themselves as I wrote in earlier comments [to save space here]. The rubrics read like any evaluation. Unless one is in the industry, it would be hard to evaluate the evaluation. I've seen similar evaluations for private corporations who rate their executives for pay raises and bonuses and such. There needs to be some sort of measuring stick for human resources to evaluate and base their salary increases on. Every cost increase must have some sort of justification and these evaluations seem like a function of that more than a true evaluation of a teacher's competence. However, in the end, does the company make money? Is the Board of Shareholders happy? That is the only rubric that matters.
Dan D. December 23, 2013 at 03:06 PM
If I already posted, my apologies. Browser issues. I'm not a teacher or bureaucrat in any educational institution. I married a teacher, have a daughter who has been a teacher, and had a very close friend who was a top level administrator. All three complained that the measurement systems in place did not actually measure accomplishment, just activities. I just took the time to briefly read some of the info on the website RW referenced and now understand what they were talking about. In the sea of words I read a lot of trendy education-speak, and a lot of activities, but not one instance of a measurable result as part of the "evaluation" criteria. This is disturbing and perhaps an indication of why the educational establishment is being held in lower and lower esteem (and rightly so!). How about ANY measurable goal? Maybe "All students can describe the branches of the federal government in writing and their roles"? Even "Win one more game in any sport or activity"? Anything that can be counted and verified at all??? Maybe all these activities that are suggested measurements result in actual student achievement and progress.....maybe not. Until the education establishment fixes their measurement system, I fear that the quality of public education will continue to decline.
Hans Moleman December 23, 2013 at 08:46 PM
We have exemplary administration, I'm sure Olsen and Keele will sort it out!
Westford Insider February 16, 2014 at 04:46 PM
I hear there is a sub committee for the committee which Bill Olsen has delegated to look into why no 'exemplary' teachers in Westford (there are in other districts) while he gives the WEA the ol run around. The assistant superintendent is retiring this year and Olsen is gone next year, yet it looks like the leadership void has begun early! #evaluatethat
Vincent DiRico February 16, 2014 at 05:10 PM
"I hear there is a sub committee for the committee which Bill Olsen has delegated to look into why no 'exemplary' teachers in Westford (there are in other districts)" ---> Who told you that? your cat? I myself (and I don't follow these issues very closely) recall he said that he wanted to allow time for the new system to settle out. Scratch scratch sniff sniff #meow
Sam February 16, 2014 at 05:22 PM
I sure hope its an indoor cat.
Vincent DiRico February 16, 2014 at 05:28 PM
School Committee Meeting Date: June 17, 2013 ---> This was a directive throughout the system this year while transitioning to the new evaluation tool, and he too “plays by the same rules”. Therefore he requested that his evaluation be edited by changing “exemplary” ratings to “proficient” for this year. ---> Makes ya wonder, insider of what? #badkitty
Sam February 16, 2014 at 07:48 PM
Ah those damn facts always gets in their way Vincent

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